Achieving and maintaining fat loss ultimately boils down to creating an energy deficit or consuming fewer calories than you expand.
While diet should be the primary driver of creating an energy deficit, exercise also plays an important role.
Not only does exercise augment the energy deficit, but exercise is also associated with numerous health benefits such as increased strength, improved cardiovascular fitness, and greater preservation of lean muscle mass and resting metabolic rate.
In addition, exercise helps maintain weight loss, which is critically important because 95% of dieters regain the weight they lose within 5 years, and a good portion of those individuals gain back more weight than they lose.
Having said that, exercise is also a form of stress on the body. We need some stress to stimulate the body to adapt optimally.
Still, if the stress is too great, or if you cannot recover adequately from that stress, it can push the body in the opposite direction, leading to the body eventually breaking down.
That is why, as well as managing your training load appropriately, it is essential to be mindful of how you can maximise recovery from your training to get the most out of it.
So, whether you are reading this as a qualified personal trainer or a health and fitness enthusiast, it is vital to understand this if you are serious about results!
There are numerous exercise modalities for fat loss, which can broadly be categorised into the following:
Each of these modalities has its respective advantages and disadvantages.
First up is continuous aerobic training, which is aerobic work at low to moderate intensities that improve cardiovascular fitness by causing the cardiac fibres to stretch, thus stimulating eccentric cardiac hypertrophy and increasing left ventricular cavity volume. This enables the heart to store and pump more blood with each beat.
High-intensity interval training, otherwise known as HITT, on the other hand, increases the contractability of the cardiac fibres by stimulating them to contact more forcefully, which also increases stroke volume or the amount of blood pumped by the heart with each beat.
High-intensity resistance training involves using moderate to heavy loads with ample rest periods, stimulating increased strength, muscle mass, and bone density. The more muscle mass you can maintain when dieting, the greater the fat loss you will achieve for a given caloric deficit.
Metabolic Resistance Training, on the other hand, utilises short rest periods with moderate to heavy loads and may also incorporate some high-intensity aerobic exercises to maximise caloric expenditure and post-exercise energy burn.
Typically, the entire body is trained at each session with this modality, and several exercises are performed in a row for non-competing muscle groups.
A programming system like the legendary German Body Composition Training (popularised by the late Charles Poliquin) can be fantastic for optimising fat loss, as it allows for sufficient local rest before hitting the same muscle group again while keeping the workout density high. Check it out in the video below!
All four of these methods are taught extensively in our Performance PT Coach Certification, which contains cutting-edge science and practical systems of over 100 different training methods for fat loss, hypertrophy, performance, longevity, corrective exercise and more.
While each of the modalities above has its advantages and as discussed, an argument can be made that metabolic resistance training is the best option.
i.e., if you only had 4 hours per week to train and wanted the optimal return on time investment, this would be your method.
Gym chains, such as our partners at Body Fit Training (aka BFT), do this extensively through their group fitness and conditioning classes.
This is because metabolic resistance training drives up the caloric burn and post-exercise energy expenditure while also improving cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and endurance.
As discussed, if you can only exercise three or four days a week, this would be the modality of choice to ensure they cover all bases.
The downside of this type of training is that it is also the most taxing of all the training modalities. Therefore, even if you only get in the gym three to four days a week, you still want to maximise your recovery.
Many modalities are touted to improve recovery, from saunas to ice baths and cold showers, cryotherapy, IV injections, and expensive supplements.
Fortunately, some of the most effective modalities are free, and anyone can immediately implement them.
Here are the three recovery modalities that we recommend you focus on.
Undoubtedly, getting 7-9 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep is one of the most effective and low-cost options for enhancing recovery. During sleep, the body repairs itself and regenerates the mind. Countless studies show that lack of sleep impairs recovery and mental and physical performance. Focus on getting to bed and waking up at the same time each day without an alarm, and your body will thank you for it.
Another super effective, cheap, and easy recovery strategy is deep breathing or meditation. When you slow down your breathing, you slow down your brain waves and go from a sympathetic to a parasympathetic state. The parasympathetic system is rejuvenating and anti-inflammatory, which helps improve recovery from exercise. Try meditating at least 20 minutes daily or practising deep breathing for 5-10 minutes three times daily for the best results.
While high-intensity exercise is more demanding and harder to recover from, low-intensity aerobic exercise has the opposite effect. Low-intensity aerobic exercise improves blood flow to the muscles and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps facilitate recovery from high-intensity exercise.
Try ending each workout with 15-20 minutes of low-intensity aerobic exercise or perform 15-25 minutes on your off days and see the difference it makes in your recovery. Keep your heart rate at around 60-70% of your max heart rate for the best results.
As you can see, you don’t need anything fancy to optimise your recovery. The methods described above are cheap, simple, and anyone can implement them. Put them to use, and you will start immediately seeing the difference it can make to your recovery. If you have a smart device that measures heart variability (HRV), you should start seeing an improvement in your HRV within days!
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